{excerpt from ‘no place i’m going’}

I spent a great deal of time in auditions this week, which leads to plenty of writing, but less self-reflected, blogish writing and more disappear-into-my-head-during-the-downtimes writing.  And while I hate to leave you without an update every week, I also think that posting a haiku to the amazing pasta salad I just ate is a bit of a cop-out.  (A haiku?  An haiku?  Grammar, why have you abandoned me?)  So here is something completely unnecessary and adorable that I wrote up earlier this week.  Don’t read through if you don’t want to see two dudes snuggling on a couch and maybe flirting a little.

*****

     Daniel smiled as he watched the pencil in Oliver’s hand.  The man was a breathing hypocrisy.  His handwriting was an illegible mess of shaky letters and ink blotches, but the strokes of his sketches were steady and precise.  His skin was forever fever-hot to the touch but he always bundled up like an Antarctic explorer.  Sometimes Daniel caught his eyes off in some distant, murky world, but he had never known a quicker smile nor a brighter laugh.  He wondered if Oliver would ever cease amazing him as he breathed in deep the astringent tea.

‘What did you call this liquid atrocity?’  He nudged Oliver’s bouncing knee with a bare toe.

Oliver smiled and grabbed Daniel’s foot with his free hand.  ‘Rooibos.’  The word was strange music on his lips.  ‘My dad swore by it.’

‘And it will help me how?’

‘Don’t be sour, Danny.  Even if you are sick.’  He bent to fish through his tattered bag.  Daniel was lost for a moment in the shape of his forearm, for once exposed by a rolled-up sleeve.  A small scar halfway down on the left side, like a scab he wouldn’t stop picking.  His gaze fell to Oliver’s hand as he pulled out a new pencil, identical to the last in Daniel’s eye, but clearly a world of difference for Oliver.  The butt of his hand was smudged black and dark marks lined the inside of his middle finger.  Daniel spotted scratches on his thumb and the back of his hand, calluses from long hours holding his pen, torn cuticles and bitten nails.  He realised too late that Oliver was looking at him.

‘What, love?’

‘I said it’s full of antioxidants.’

‘What is?’

‘Rooibos.’

‘Oh.  Good show.’

‘What were you thinking about?’  That crooked, impish smile again, as if he already knew.

‘No.  I don’t want you to get a big head.’  Oliver laughed and Daniel felt it melt into his toes.

‘You’re quite sweet when you don’t feel well.’

‘It’s a trick.  To make you take care of me.’

‘It’s working.’  He frowned at his drawing, placed a final flourish, and set down his pencil.  ‘There.’

‘Can I see?’

‘No.’  Oliver spun to Daniel.  ‘You should sleep.’

‘I’m not tired.’

‘Of course you’re tired.  You’re sick.’

‘I’m not a child, Oliver.’

‘No, you’re sick.  Rooibos and sleep.  Best thing for you.’

‘But I’m not done with my…roybus?’

‘Rooibos.’

‘Rowboat?’

‘You’re getting worse.’

‘I’m not done with my tea.’

Oliver laughed again, grinning at him from under messy fringe.  ‘Alright.  What shall we do instead?’

Daniel sighed and stretched.  ‘Let’s have a film.’

‘What film?

‘I don’t know, darling.  Any film.’

‘I’ll fall asleep.’

‘Good.  Then I’ll fall asleep.  Everyone wins.’

‘Why will my falling asleep make you fall asleep?’

‘I’ve grown accustomed to my hot water bottle.’  He smiled at Oliver and set down his mug.  ‘Now put something on the telly and come be with me.’

‘Alright.’  Oliver gave his foot a squeeze and crawled to the television.  Daniel stretched and snuggled into his blanket.  ‘How about this one?’  Oliver held up a case.  Daniel squinted and nodded.  ‘What’s it about?’ he asked, putting in the disc and flopping onto the couch.

‘I’ve no idea; I couldn’t see the box.’

‘Here.’  Oliver scooted in behind Daniel and under the blanket.  He settled Daniel in his arms.  ‘It’s got Jack Nicholson on the cover.  Something about a bird.’

‘Wait, you’ve never seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?’

‘I don’t watch a lot of films.’  He yawned as if to demonstrate.

‘Yes, but there’s films and then there’s Cuckoo’s Nest.’

‘You sound like ’Jani.  Always yelling about Lawrence what’s-his-name.’

‘You are not telling me you don’t know Lawrence Olivier.’

‘See, this is why I think you’d’ve gotten on well.’

‘We would’ve had some key differences.’

‘Like what?’

‘Like both of us wanting to shag you.’

‘I think we could’ve worked something out.’

‘Of course you do, darling.’  He nudged Oliver’s temple with his nose.  ‘Meanwhile, Ajani and I are duelling each other for your hand.’

‘Did you cut it off?’

‘Good Lord, are you already asleep?  You’re acting batty.’

‘You’re all warm and snuggly.’

‘I have a fever.’

‘I like it.’

Daniel sighed and resigned himself to Oliver’s madness.  ‘I don’t know why I tolerate you.’

‘Because I make you Rooibos.’

‘Which I don’t even like.’

‘You’ll thank me in the morning.’  He yawned like a jungle cat before returning his attention to the screen.  ‘What’s happening?  I thought this took place in the mountains.’

‘I don’t know, darling.  You’re talking through the exposition.’

‘Are…are they in a prison?’

‘It’s an asylum.’

‘Where are the Alps?’

‘What–?’  Daniel turned to stare at him.  ‘What on Earth are you talking about?’

‘Cuckoos are from the Alps, aren’t they?’

‘It’s a metaphor–  Oh, never mind.’  He laid back in Oliver’s arms.  ‘Could you fall asleep already?  I’m exhausted.’

Oliver kissed the top of his head.  ‘I told you so.’

He dozed off within minutes.

 

© Kiri Palm 2014

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